Top 10 stories of 2013: The Commitments

As a busy year in sports winds to a close, The Blue Zone
will count down the top 10 Duke stories of 2013. Check back throughout the week as we review the most memorable moments of the year.

4. The Commitments

As dynamic as this year's Duke squad featuring Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood may be, the best could still be on the horizon for the Blue Devils.

On the recruiting trail, 2013 was highlighted by the assembly of one of the most talented classes in Duke history. It all started back in April, when Providence High School's Grayson Allen pledged his commitment to the Blue Devils.

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A 6-foot-4 guard, the Jacksonville, Fla., native has a silky 3-point stroke, but he is far more than just a shooter. Allen loves to play above the rim and attack the basket with reckless abandon. In case you're still skeptical, check out these highlights of Allen from this year's Nike Global Challenge or this video of him dunking over two 6-foot-8 guys at the City of Palms Classic.

Allen starred on the AAU circuit this summer for his Each 1 Teach 1 squad, shooting up recruiting boards in the process.

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Following near misses on top recruits Kevon Looney and Reid Travis in the fall, the Blue Devils landed the biggest package deal in college basketball history, by landing the commitments of center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones.

Okafor, a 6-foot-10 Chicago native, was ranked the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. Jones, a 6-foot-1 native of Apple Valley, Minn., was ranked fourth, and the top point guard in the class. The dynamic duo had long expressed its desire to play together in college, and kept coaches on their toes throughout the summer and fall as they made their decision, which ultimately came down to Duke and Kansas.

Okafor has been hailed by NBA GMs as one of the most polished big men ever to come out of high school, and Jones has the court vision to form one of the nation's premier backcourt combinations with Quinn Cook next season.

Searching for one final piece to round out the class, Duke shifted its attention to Houston native Justise Winslow, ranked 14th in the Class of 2014. The Houston native, who played in the same AAU program as current Blue Devil guard Rasheed Sulaimon and teamed up with Sulaimon and Okafor to win a gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, was one of the premier small forwards and best perimeter defenders in his class.

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Winslow was rumored to be a potential third member of the Okafor-Jones package and the trio made their official visit to Duke together Oct. 26. After top wing recruit Stanley Johnson committed to Arizona, which was the Blue Devils' main competitor for Winslow, Duke made its final push. Winslow committed to the Blue Devils and signed his national letter of intent just before the closing of the fall signing period.

“We’re ecstatic about the four young men that are coming to Duke,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski . “Grayson Allen committed to us very early. We believe he’s an explosive wing. Terrific offensive and defensive player. We consider Jahlil Okafor as good a big man as there is in the country, but not just a big man, we think he’s a great basketball player. He’s had an amazing amount of experience playing for the United States and for a great high school program. In Tyus Jones, I think we have the best point guard in the country. Someone who has won state championships, USA championships and is the consummate leader on the court. Justise Winslow is a great wing player. He is a guy that can guard every position and is an amazing rebounder and scorer. The great thing about all four of the kids is that they want to share a spotlight and they want to be on a great team. They’re team first guys, even though they have this excellent amount of individual talent.”

Check out the rest of The Blue Zone's top 10 stories of 2013:

3. The Comeback—Duke lacrosse rallies from 2-4 start, five-goal deficit to win national championship

4. The Commitments—Building Duke's monster 2014 recruiting class on the hardwood

5. The Expansion—ACC grows to 15 teams

6. The Return, part III—Andre Dawkins makes his long-awaited return to the Blue Devils

7. The Return, part II—Coach K commits to Team USA and Duke through 2016

8. The Return, part I—Ryan Kelly goes for 36 against Miami in his first game back from injury

9. The Leg—Kevin Ware sparks Louisville to Elite Eight victory against Blue Devils

10. The Pick—Sean Renfree becomes Duke's first NFL draft selection since 2004

Honorable Mentions


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